This photo card was found in Ionia County, Michigan. The photo was taken in Bellevue, Eaton County, Michigan by the Michigan Photo Company. On the photo’s reverse is written: “Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Johnston, Ypsilanti Mich.” Handwritten in pencil: “For Mable Basom from Aunt Frank & Uncle Tom presented July 5, 1896.”
The 1900 Federal census for Ypsilanti Ward 6, Washtenaw, Michigan records a Thos. Johnston with a Frankette Johnston. Thomas is 55, born in April of 1845 while Frankette is 48, born in September of 1852. Thomas was born in Canada (English) while Frankette was born in Michigan. The couple has no children though they have been married for 18 years. Living with the couple is Frankette’s father, William Bason, age 69, born in New York.
The couple was married on 8 November 1881 in Augusta, Washtenaw, Michigan. Thomas is recorded as “Thomas Johnson” and Frankette as “Frank E C Bason(e)”. At time of marriage Thomas was living in Pittsfield and Frankette in York, both in Washtenaw county. Parent names are not on the certificate.
Thomas is buried in the Stony Creek Cemetery, Stony Creek, Washtenaw, Michigan. He died in 1906. His headstone has Frankette’s name also transcribed; however, there is no inscribed date of death.
Frankette died on 29 June 1935 in Dundee, Monroe, Michigan from mitral insufficiency / arteriosclerosis. Her death certificate gives her father’s name as “William Basom” born in York Township, Michigan and her mother’s name as Sarah Hay born in Michigan. Frankette herself was born in York Township. The certificate does state that she was to be buried at Stony Creek.
So who was this Mabel Basom that Frankette was dedicating the photo to?
Frankette had a sister named Maybelle who married a Thomas Rowe. According to her death certificate, Maybelle was born in 1857 and died in 1924.
According to their 1900 Federal census the couple was living in Ann Arbor ward 5, Washtenaw, Michigan. They had been married for 13 years (1887). They had one daughter, Mabel, born in September of 1893.
The card was written in the care of Frankette Basom’s sister, Maybelle but was likely signed Aunt and Uncle for Tom and Maybelle’s daughter, Mabel who was 3 years old at the time of dedication.
A gossip clip in the Ann Arbor News dated 19 September 1917 (page 2) places the all together:
“Mr. and Mrs. Thomas [Maybelle] Rowe and daughter, Mabel, Miss Neva Hay and Mrs. Frankette Johnston of Ann Arbor spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Baker.”
Incidentally the informant on Frankette Johnston’s death certificate was a Mabel Alloway of 3698 Garfield. Mabel Rowe married Charles W. Alloway on 12 July 1922 in Detroit. This was Mabel’s 2nd marriage. She had previously been wed to Garrett Voorhees on 29 January 1917 in Ann Arbor but filed for divorce that same year (Ann Arbor News, 19 April 1917 p11).
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